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Cassini Takes Images of Growing Storm on Saturn

Storm on Saturn as of Dec. 24, 2010. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The white storm on Saturn’s northern hemisphere is growing and expanding. This raw image from the Cassini collection was taken on Dec. 24, 2010, showing the storm getting bigger. You can compare the storm from earlier images taken by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley.

Below is a color version, as well as other recent raw images showing the “real” moon Pandora is on the line.

A 'quick' colorization of Saturn and its storm by Stu Atkinson.

Here’s a color version sent in by Stu Atkinson, who said he did a “quick” go at adding color to the image. Looks great, Stu!

The moon Pandora lines up with Saturn's rings in this view from Cassini. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

See more images at the Cassini website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Navneeth December 27, 2010, 10:15 AM

    The up-close image of the storm is awesome! And it is so odd — something that is disturbing the seemingly always-serene outer atmosphere of Saturn.

  • Mr. Milton Banana December 27, 2010, 11:44 AM

    I’m guessing (and hoping) that it is a mega-thunderstorm. Jupiter has been reported to have similar explosions of cloud in its northern hemisphere. Like Saturn, these eruptions of cloud are very rare. In Jupiter’s case, these clouds were similar to Earth thunderclouds, only much, much bigger-towering 100 miles above the surrounding clouds. Now, what needs to be done is to check the cloud for radio signals. If it is indeed a thunderstorm, it is the most gargantuan thunderstorm ever photographed. It must be larger than Earth. Note also that Saturn’s lightning has been reported to be anywhere from 10,000 times to 1 million times more powerful than Earth’s, making its lightning the most powerful in the solar system so far. Flying alongside this beast in Saturn’s atmosphere would be a terrifying experience-particularly if there are mega-lightning bolts in this storm.

  • Aqua December 27, 2010, 12:11 PM

    Wow…now THAT is an amazing storm! and seems to be bigger than any I can recall seeing, except for the ones at the poles….

  • ikepod December 28, 2010, 8:25 PM

    I SUPPOSE THE SATURNIANS;-) ARE EXPERIMENTING… seriously, what could cause such a storm? Maybe there is another explanation beside logic.
    just kidding.

  • Jon Hanford December 29, 2010, 4:24 AM

    Phil over at Bad Astronomy has a link to some awesome color images derived from Cassini ‘raw’ pics by Argentinian physicist Guillermo Abramson (in Spanish-Google Translate): http://guillermoabramson.blogspot.com/2010/12/erupcion-en-saturno.html

    Like Stu’s colorized image above, several different color compositions are displayed, some with details not well shown by the B&W raws (also description of the individual images used and their color assignments). Some really nice work!

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb December 29, 2010, 8:46 AM

    It looks like some space aliens swimming through the atmosphere of Saturn.

    My partner says it looks like some huge cosmic spermatozoa! ;)

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb December 29, 2010, 8:57 AM

    Just realised.
    In an earlier article on Saturn, I posted some info on Will Hay (1888-1949) when he found a similar spot in August 1933 using a 6-inch. (15cm) Cook refractor.

    He describes;

    “…The large bright area seemed to be followed by the other bright areas tho’ not so conspicuous or well defined as the principal one.”

    Good heavens! This observation describes this same image perfectly. Surely this must be perhaps a long-tern regular atmospheric phenomena.

    Perhaps there is something very odd deep down in Saturn’s atmosphere?

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